My pleasure to offer you two bits of writing by Lindsay–a rather regular reader and contributor–inspired by past journal prompts. -PMc
We was in a bad place, me and Jim. Real bad, you know. Arguin all the time and comin to blows some days and I was even in the hospital once and the police came and they says how I could press charges if I’d a mind to. Yeh, so a real bad place. And we talked of endin it, the whole shebang, and I’d get the house and the kids and he’d get the car. That’s as far as we’d got.
Then he found some old pictures. On slides. From way back. And I caught him lookin at ‘em, standin at the window and the rainy day light to see ‘em by, and he held ‘em one at a time, between the pinch of finger and thumb, and up to the light, his eyes narrowed so as he could see.
His face then, all soft and smilin. You hadda see it. I say it, you hadda see it. And I asked him what he was lookin at and he passed one to me. It’s a different ways to see pictures. Now they’s on computer screens and we don’t takes the time, and even if we does we’s hurries through ‘em. But standin in front of the bedroom window, the slide lifted to the light and it’s like lookin at the sun or the moon and I lingered over that lookin.
It was a picture of me and Jim and one of the kids when they was just born and Jim lookin like the cat what’s got the cream and his arms around me and I’d forgot it could be like that with him. And he’d forgot too, cos there in the bedroom he puts his arm across my shoulders and he whispers in my ear and he says, all soft and tears catchin in his voice, how he wished he could have it all to do over.
I reckons what he means is he would do it all different. Well, maybes not it all, but the stuff with Julie next door and what they done that weekend the kids and me was away to my mother’s. And if he’d come with us then, we’d be in a different place now, sure as eggs, and maybes the same place as we can see in the picture.
I don’t have any words for him then, not for Jim and what he said, and I just stands there with his arm about me and the picture raised high and a rainy day light on my lifted face, and in that moment it is all different.
On any other day she’d have stopped at Marty’s just long enough to pass the time, making comment on the weather and what’s going on in the world, and Marty selling her a newspaper and he’d smile and she’d smile back at him and he’d carry that feeling through the rest of the afternoon.
On any other day she’d drop a dollar into the cup of Billy the beggar on the corner of ninth and he’d bless her and wish her luck and he’d watch her walking away from him and the way her hips moved and the almost skip of her step, and he’d lick his lips and pocket the dollar.
On any other day the boys at the ‘Rise and Shine’ window cleaning company would stand with their faces close to the glass and they’d wave and whistle and she’d turn her head and wave back and that would make the youngest there think he was in love and his name is Bradley.
And the lady who feeds the pigeons in the garden up on Cranston Way would shake her head and tut at the shortness of Christie’s skirt and the girl called Alice would say she thinks the length of the skirt is just fine and if you’ve got the legs there’s no point in keeping them hidden.
On any other day this is how it would go. And Christie turning heads and the flick of her hair and her laughter like birdsong in the city and the day a little brighter when she’s been in it.
But today is not any other day, and she’s in a greater hurry than normal and a crease at her brow and she bites at her bottom lip and she does not stop at Marty’s; and Billy the beggar is a dollar lighter in his cup this day; and the boys at the Rise and Shine window cleaning company crane their necks looking this way and that, searching, thinking they must have missed her, and Bradley does not think he could have and he feels an empty ache deep in his gut; and the woman feeding the pigeons in the garden up on Cranston Way snips at Alice instead and it is Alice’s skirt that is too short today, only Alice thinks it isn’t. And Christie, in so much of a spin, and no one can afterwards say why, and she does not stop before crossing the road and the driver of the car does not see her and the world is stood on its head in a cartwheel moment and the days after that are changed and a new shape given to every other day.
→Thanks again, Lindsay, for these wonderful moments in writing. I encourage readers to respond to the journal prompts through the comments section; there is a whole lot of good writing going on out there. And as always, thanks for reading!←